The No-Bump Pregnancy Blues
I read you all the time. I know you probably get eleventy trillion questions and I don’t know if this question is really something you can answer but I do need some girlfriend-esque advice and being that I am in a new city, I don’t really have any actual peoples yet. My husband and I are 5 months pregnant, well really he is just along for the ride. My problem is that I don’t look pregnant. I was on the heavier side before the pregnancy, normally wearing anywhere between a size 14 and 16 depending on the store. In my first three months I lost 17 pounds due to morning sickness and my doctor was all down with that but there is still no real outside sign of pregnancy. We just had the ultrasound and little won’t uncross his or her legs is fine and the right size but everyone who knows I am pregnant comments to me every single day about how not pregnant I look. On top of that my mom had three pregnancies all under 16 pounds (WTF?) in weight gain and all of my grandmothers’ pregnancies apparently were under 20 pounds each in weight gain. So I am having a small pregnancy totally eclipsed by my already jolly tummy.
Now this might sound all super awesome and stuff but the truth is it sucks big time. First of all I want peoples to like notice the awesome miracle of life going on inside me but more importantly I would love for people, my husband among them, to like ummm realize that hello 5 months pregnant, going on a five mile hike on a bike trail in midday heat including a section of 600 stairs up a Pittsburgh hill side is not like the best thing ever for me. My sister-in-law and her husband want us to go camping with them in two weekends and my husband already said sure no problem, total mind fart about his pregnant, uncomfortable wife who already has issues sleeping through the night on a real bed and gets up to pee 6 or 7 times on a real toilet.
To add insult to injury we were in a big name baby store this weekend trying to decide on a rocker and we ran into our very thin, petite neighbor who is just at three months. She has a cute little bump and she asked if we were getting things for a friend, I told her no I was pregnant also. We ended up checking out at the same time and my husband helped her carry her bags to the car leaving me to wrangle our brand new rocker box back into the shopping cart and out to the car by myself. When I asked him about it later he pointed out that she is just so pregnant he had to help her, when I reminded him that his own wife is two months more pregnant he said yes but that I was “fine doing it by myself.” Amy how do I get people, once again cough idiot cough husband included, to stop and realize that dude, just cause you can’t see my cute little baby bump doesn’t mean that it isn’t there and that I still have all the same issues of pregnancy as my petite counter parts; like back aches, sleeplessness and unfortunately still some residual morning sickness? Is there like some clothing that I could wear that would really make me look pregnant?
Anything will help because at this point I am afraid I might get all the way to the end and still have to endure people thinking I can still do extraneous activities and that I am really fine and “not that pregnant!”
Ready to stuff a pillow under my shirt
No Pregnancy Bump? No Problem
As a pregnant woman who looks like she swallowed a beach ball, you can probably take my advice with an extra grain of salt, but…most people don’t notice, no matter what your belly looks like. People forget, people are rude, people need constant reminding that certain activities are outright forbidden or just not a great idea or HI, I DON’T WANT TO SPEND 45 MINUTES ON THE HOT CROWDED SUBWAY AT RUSH HOUR JUST TO MEET YOU AND YOUR FRIENDS AT A BAR AND WATCH YOU DRINK ALL NIGHT WHILE I SQUEEZE MY PREGNANT BUTT ON A BACKLESS BARSTOOL AND THAT’S IF I’M LUCKY AND SOMEONE GIVES UP THEIR SEAT AND HAAAAAA, LIKE THAT’S GOING TO HAPPEN.
(Yes. I am including “husbands” here.)
Honestly, I’ve had to awkwardly disclose my pretty obvious pregnancy (“Oh my GOD! You don’t look pregnant at ALL! You can’t even TELL!”) to someone at a social gathering, only to have someone ELSE comment minutes later on how BIG my belly looks and boggle at the idea that I’m not due until October because oooooh, wow.
I know it’s harder for you, since your body isn’t living up to the ripe, round pregnancy of your dreams, so it’s tempting to blame others’ boneheaded reactions on your appearance. But try to believe me when I say that “looking pregnant” — even in the classic celebrity baby bump style — doesn’t curb the thoughtless comments and assumptions about your physical comfort and limitations. Angelina Jolie visited refugee camps while pregnant with twins, what do you MEAN you need help carrying laundry baskets up and down two flights of stairs? GOD.
A Word About Husbands
I would also suggest that your husband’s behavior at the baby store had less to do with your neighbor’s appearance and more to do with the fact that SHE WASN’T YOU. My husband has been through this deal twice, and he’s wonderful, except when he’s…not. I’ve thrown up in more restaurant bathrooms than I can possibly count at this point, all because he insists on reading the menu out loud to me, forcing my brain to combine the idea of roast chicken (I CANNOT EAT CHICKEN, OH MY GOD) and rack of lamb and oh look, honey, they’ve got veal sweetbreads!
And I’ve STILL never forgiven him for that time during my first pregnancy when he ordered tongue. And a plate came out with a…tongue on it. And then he offered me a bite. And then after I bolted to the bathroom to vomit, he ASKED FOR A DOGGIE BAG FOR THE TONGUE AND ASKED ME TO HOLD IT ON MY LAP DURING THE CAR RIDE HOME.
But just watch him turn into the most gastrointestinally sensitive man on earth if we have a pregnant guest at a dinner party. Anything you can’t eat? Anything you’re craving? Chilled sparkling water with lime? Or would you prefer lemon? Is the smell from the grill bothering you?
Really, though, I don’t take it personally. You really can’t take it personally. And you need to stop blaming your own body as the source of something that’s really a universal symptom of universal dunderheadedness. You are his wife, and he probably really does see you as kicking ass at pregnancy, and admires the fact that you ARE staying relatively strong and independent and not at all like his fears and misconceptions about what pregnancy is like. Which may be something along the lines of Victorian women fainting and taking to their beds for the full nine months, with embryos dying left and right if they dared lift anything heavier than their pinky finger. The idea of you camping while pregnant may very well be a story he’ll brag about for years to come, because MAN, he married Superwoman.
Or not. Either way, continue to remind him when he pushes you too far, or forgets to make that second trip to bring the grocery bags in because he assumed you were getting the 42-pack of bottled water and the economy jumbo sized laundry detergent.
As for the rest of the world not noticing you’re pregnant, try not to give it another thought. Wear clothes that FIT and are COMFORTABLE. I’ve found no rhyme or reason to Other People’s Reactions = What I’m Wearing. I’ve worn an empire waist maternity dress (with my arms and hands wrapped around the base of my belly, all maternal and stuff) and had to awkwardly turn down a cocktail. I suppose I’ve had fewer problems when I opt for more form-fitting outfits, but…if that’s not a flattering look for your physique, don’t wear it, especially in hopes of getting a desired reaction from OTHER PEOPLE. You could also, provided you don’t find them annoying or overly precious, wear novelty shirts that announce the pregnancy for you — like these, for example.
(Then again, that’s assuming people will actually read what’s on your shirt. Which still might be expecting a bit too much.)
(And dear God, don’t get a shirt that says “NOT FAT, PREGNANT” or some variation thereof. Come on ladies, let’s just knock that off.)
One last bit of encouragement, which may or may not apply to you — five months IS pregnancy no-mans-land for a lot of women. As big as my belly seemed in my mind at five months, it was NOTHING compared to the “popping” I’ve experienced in the last two or three weeks as I entered month seven. Babies move, organs shift, and your mother’s and grandmothers’ itty bitty pregnancies could very well have been more because of the era they gave birth in rather than some genetic, set-in-stone predisposition. (Women used to be TOLD to keep their weight gain at 15 pounds, for the love of God.) But no matter what happens, your body is doing something wonderful and miraculous, even if it chooses to not shout it from the top of an inside-out belly button. Be kind to it, love it, and — just like you’ll one day tell your child — don’t ever let other people influence how you look at your body.
Don’t forget to visit Amalah’s Weekly Pregnancy Calendar.Published August 7, 2008. Last updated March 27, 2018.